Sport: Last year’s foes see different fortunes as Armenia’s soccer season picks up pace

Sport: Last year’s foes see different fortunes as Armenia’s soccer season picks up pace


King Arthur and Raging Bull back to Yerevan in glory

Soccer

2008 champions FC Pyunik and runners-up FC Ararat are at present in diametrically opposite positions after last season’s dramatic battle for the title that led to a 'golden' match to decide the winner.

Pyunik had a relatively easy ride in the opening two rounds of matches first beating Banants 1-0 and then comfortably disposing of Ulis 3-0 last weekend. Ararat struggled to get a positive result ending up being beaten in both games – first by Gyumri’s Shirak 0-1 and then by fellow townsmen Kilikia 0-2.

Ahead of the Saturday (April 11) third round of matches Pyunik are on top with six points in two games, with Ashtarak’s Mika that beat Shirak 3-2 on Sunday second on goal difference.

Ararat, in contrast, share the bottom spot with Kapan’s Gandzasar with an identically poor goal difference.

The champion’s next opponent is Kilikia, at home. Ararat will play Ashtarak’s Mika away, while Shirak and Gandzasar are to entertain Banants and Ulis, respectively.

Pyunik are successful also in the current Armenian Cup competition.

In the second-leg quarterfinals played on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Yerevan club easily beat Kilikia 3-0 (6-0 on aggregate), while Ararat lost to Banants 0-1 (0-2 on aggregate).

Despite a 0-1 defeat from Shirak, Mika progressed to the next stage due to a 3-1 home victory in the first leg, as did Ulis against Gandzasar (0-1, 4-1 – 4-2 on aggregate).

The semi-final fixtures are Ulis v Pyunik and Mika v Banants to be played on April 14 and 15. (Second-leg matches scheduled for April 21 and 22).

The final match is to be played on May 9.

(Source: Football Federation of Armenia, www.ffa.am)

Wrestling

Good news for Armenian wrestling fans came from Lithuanian capital Vilnius over last weekend as two of Armenia’s Greco-Roman wrestlers claimed European titles at the continent’s championships.

Arsen Julfalakyan, 22, won the European champion’s title in the 74-kg section on the way scoring victories against athletes from Croatia, Germany, Latvia, Belarus and the 2006 world champion from Ukraine, Vladimir Shatskikh, in the final.

Armenia’s heavyweight Yuri Patrikeev, 29, who won bronze at last summer’s Beijing Olympics, repeated his 2008 European championship success by bringing his team another gold medal in Vilnius in the 120-kg section. He outwrestled Sweden’s Jalmar Sjoeberg in the final.

Armenia (participating only in the men’s section) was represented at the championships by seven Freestyle and seven Greco-Roman wrestlers in seven different weight categories.

Roman Amoyan (55 kg), Artak Harutyunyan (60 kg), Khosrov Melikyan (66 kg), Denis Forov (84 kg), and Arman Geghamyan (96 kg) all failed to reach late stages of the Greco-Roman tournament.

Overall, in Greco-Roman team rankings, Armenia finished among the top three (with 29 points), yielding the top spot to Russia (54) and the second to Poland (31).

In Freestyle, Ruslan Basiev, representing Armenia, reached the final in the 120-kg section only to be defeated by Azerbaijan’s Ali Isayev.

Mihran Jaburyan (55 kg) lost in the semi-final, as did Zhirayr Hovhannisiayn (66 kg) and Edgar Yenokyan (96 kg) in their respective weight categories.

Artur Arakelyan (60 kg), Suren Markosyan (74 kg) and Harutyun Yenokyan (84 kg) were eliminated at early stages.

In Freestyle team rankings, Armenia finished fifth (with 38 points), behind Azerbaijan (63), Russia (43), Ukraine (41) and Turkey (39).

(Source: the championship’s official website at http://www.fila-wrestling.com/vilnius09)

Weightlifting

Armenian weightlifter Arakel Mirzoyan (69 kg) won a gold medal at the European championships in Bucharest, Romania, reports Regnum.ru. The 19-year-old athlete, according to the report, lifted 336 kg in total (151 kg in snatch and 185 kg in clean and jerk) to win the title. (Source: Regnum.ru)

Boxing

Armenia-born thumpers Arthur Abraham and Vic Darchinyan, who currently hold world titles in their respective weight categories in professional boxing, were welcomed in Yerevan on April 7 for the first time appearing to the Armenian public together.

Panarmenian.net quoted IBF Middleweight World Champion Abraham, dubbed ‘King Arthur’, and WBA, WBC and IBF Undisputed Super Flyweight World Champion Darchinyan, dubbed 'Raging Bull', as saying they would spare no effort to defend their current titles.

Abraham, who performs for Germany, defended his title for the ninth time in a row in a fight against American challenger Lujuan Simon last month.

Darchinyan, performing for Australia, successfully defended his title against Mexican Jorge Arce in February.

“Our training methods are different. I do spend most of my time on training, Vic doesn’t. But he proves his professionalism in the ring,” Abraham said, according to Panarmenian.net

“I do not spend my free time on training. Arthur was right to say that our methods are different. When I have free time I spend it with my family or come to Armenia,” Darchinyan said, according to the same source.

Regnum.ru reports the two boxers were honored Tuesday at a ceremony at Yerevan’s Moskva Cinema House organized by Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepyan.

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan was among those who congratulated the boxers on their recent successes in the ring, the same source reported. (Sources: Panarmenian.net; Regnum.ru)

Chess

Armenian grandmasters Levon Aronyan and Vladimir Hakobyan are due to take part in the fourth FIDE Grand Prix series tournament in Nalchik, Russia, from 14 to 30 April, reports www.armchess.am.

Aronyan’s and Hakobyan’s opponents will be GMs Peter Leko (Hungary), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Etienne Bacrot (France), Peter Svidler (Russia), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Sergey Karjakin (Ukraine), Gata Kamsky (USA), Evgeny Alekseev (Russia), Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan), and Pavel Elianov (Ukraine).

Late last month Aronyan successfully defended his title at Amber, a prestigious annual blindfold and rapid chess tournament in Nice, France, registering his first major international success this year. Even though the games of the tournament do not count for rating purposes since they do not conform to international standards for such ratification, Aronyan’s latest FIDE rating showed a significant improvement from the 11th in January to as high as N. 6 at the beginning of April.

The 26-year-old leader of Armenia’s (twice) Olympiad winning team is behind N. 1 Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria); N. 2 reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand (India); N.3 Magnus Carlsen (Norway); N. 4 Vladimir Kramnik (Russia); and N. 5 Teimur Rajabov (Azerbaijan).

GM Vladimir Hakobyan is in the 34th position on the FIDE rating (as of April 1). The top 100 FIDE rated players also include Armenia’s Gabriel Sargsyan (63) and Arman Pashikyan (71). (Sources: FIDE; www.armchess.am)